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Army of Darkness: Special Edition (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000043117
Added by: Jason Newington
Added on: 2/12/2002 09:51
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    Review of Army of Darkness: Special Edition

    9 / 10


    "Hail to the king baby!" After what`s seems an eternity the 2 disc version of Army of Darkness has finally been released on Region 2.

    This film shouldn`t need an introduction but for those that don`t know the Evil Dead series this is the third installment. Picking up straight from where Evil Dead 2 left off Ash (Bruce Campbell) is stranded in medieval times. His only hope of returning home lies within the pages of the Book of the Dead. The Deadites, an undead army, will also stop at nothing to possess the same book so Ash has his work cut out. In contrast to the original of the series this third installments is very light hearted and packed full of the kind of legendary cheesy dialogue that modern movies can`t hope to match.

    Disc 1 contains the US theatrical release , in both anamorphic widescreen and fullframe, along with the original ending (dropped from the film because it was seen as too depressing), a benind-the-scenes documentary, a trailer plus some talent biographies.

    Disc 2 contains the Director`s Cut presented in anamorphic widescreen including an additional 15 minutes of extra footage, an audio commentary with director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell and co-writer Ivan Raimi, four never-before-seen deleted scenes and director`s storyboards.

    This release is almost identical to the original (and highly sought after) Limited Edition released in Region 1 back in September 1999 however there are some differences, read on.


    Disc 1 - the Region 1 release was THX certified however this version has no trace of any THX involvement whatsoever. That said I never understood how the Region 1 release could possibly be THX certified as it was nowhere near the quality you would expect from a disc making such a boast.

    THX or not the picture quality is identical to that of the Region 1 disc. Whilst good in places it`s a touch ropey in others. There are scenes (take a look at Ash`s first encounter with Arthur) that still have some marking on and certain scenes shot in low light lack any detail and can be hard to make out. Quality issues aside this is still the best format on which to own the film, it`s just a shame that more work wasn`t put into clearing up such a variable picture quality.

    Disc 2 - this disc contains the original version that was submitted to the film studio by the director (Sam Raimi). It`s interesting to see what was cut to get the running time down. It makes me laugh as the studio thought that 96 minutes was too long so cut it to 81 minutes, imagine if they ever had a movie like Lord of the Rings to edit :).

    The picture quality on this disc is good in parts and ropey in others, overall being of poorer quality than disc 1. Some of the additional footage looks like it was quite literally picked up off of the floor. This disc is not about quality though, it is about extra footage so I won`t be too harsh. Re-mastering would, of course, have been nice on this disc but I am happy just to have a never before seen cut of a great movie.


    Disc 1 - here`s the real treat. Whereas the Region 1 release contained a swanky new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack this release now also features a new DTS soundtrack which is noticeably more lively. Whilst there are no sequences that would ever be classed as demonstration quality it is a big improvement over the original Dolby Digital 2.0 affair. There are many parts that show off the new soundtrack to good effect (the monster chasing Ash through the forest is a good comparison piece), even the opening titles sound so much better. This is definitely a big feather in Region 2`s cap.

    Disc two, as mentioned earlier, sports the older Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It is still good but after hearing the new version it sounds weaker than it did previously.

    Music wise we are treated to a great soundtrack from a composer by the name of Danny Elfman. Does the name ring a bell at all? Well it should do. He is the man responsible for some of the best movie music of recent times. His list of work is long and distinguished and includes films such as the first 2 Batman movies, Mars Attacks, Men In Black, Spiderman and even the theme tune to The Simpsons. His efforts here really elevate certain scenes, scenes such as where Ash approaches the Book of the Dead are given an ethereal feel by and the attack by the Army of Darkness could have been ruined had the music not hit the spot. This soundtrack is very reminiscent of the one which he wrote for Batman Returns and I loved that one too :)


    Right, a collectors edition lives or dies on the strength of it`s extras so here`s what we get on this double pack.

    There is the obligatory audio commentary on the uncut movie with Bruce Campbell (Ash), Sam Raimi (Writer/Director) and Ivan Raimi (Writer). This is really amusing and very interesting indeed. There is some great banter between Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi and shows the fact that they were school mates. I was really looking forward to hearing Bruce Campbell`s take on the movie and I was NOT disappointed in the slightest. My only criticism . . . it was all over too quickly, I could have listened to them for hours.

    The 2nd disc (containing the uncut version of the movie) contains 15 minutes of additional footage which, whilst not adding a hell of a lot to the movie, does help to explain some parts a little better (mainly the windmill scene). Also some scenes now appear in a different order as well which is a little bit different compared to other uncut versions of movies.

    The gem here is that this version contains the full original ending. This ending was deemed too depressing by the studio so a new ending was shot (the S-Mart ending). Personally I prefer the S-Mart ending as it includes some more classic Ash quotes but the original ending is more than a little unexpected. This ending is also included as an extra on disc one as well however there seems to be a problem in that I couldn`t get any audio working on it at all. Not the end of the world as you can see the ending on Disc 2 so you won`t miss it, a bit of a shame though nonetheless.

    Disc two (the uncut version) contains 4 more deleted scenes . . . ok so the uncut version was cut but these were scenes cut by the director and not alterations demanded by the movie studio. These are also accompanied by audio commentaries by the same group as did the full length commentary. Great stuff, we get to hear why they were cut straight from the man who cut them.

    We also get a documentary titled "The Men Behind The Army". Again very interesting and makes you realise just what they managed to achieve with so few resources. Finishing up we also have storyboards, talent bios, stills gallery and a theatrical trailer.

    Simply having the uncut version with commentary makes these first class extras in my opinion, add to that yet more deleted scenes, commentary, documentary and this set of extras gets a big thumbs up.


    Ok, the movie itself . . . this has to be one of my favourite movies of all time. I won`t go over the plot of the movie again. Nor will I go on about the coolness of the Ash character and his great dialogue. This movie is a classic, as simple as that.

    With regards to the DVD this Region 2 release is currently the best version of the movie on any format and any Region. The image quality is identical to the Region 1 release, as is the content, however the addition of the DTS soundtrack lifts this version ahead of any others.

    As far as I`m concerned this is an essential purchase for any fan of the film, and indeed anyone else.

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